Imagine If Your Twitter Could Get You Killed
Internet trolls have been around as long as the internet itself. These people, whether out of anger, self-loathing, or just for fun, spend countless hours harassing others just for the sake of it.
While it’s hard to separate the jokesters from those looking to do actual harm, cyberbullying as a whole is an epidemic sweeping the globe, most affecting children and teenagers, more than half of whom have reported being the victim of cyberbullying at some point in time.
Perhaps the scariest part about online bullying is that it seems innocent to the person doing it; they don’t always realize the real-life consequences their comment have. People feel emboldened on the internet thanks to the anonymity it provides them, which allows them to dehumanize their victims to mere usernames and, thus desensitized, harass them.
Now, disturbing reports from Kuwait are showing what can happen when a Twitter troll truly intends to harm their victim. Though it may sound silly, the young women these trolls are targeting could face serious repercussions, even death.
Their freedom of speech comes at a price…
When Freedom of Speech Isn’t Free
While the LGBT community has virtually no rights in Kuwait (same-sex relationships are classified as ‘debauchery’ and can result in jail time), an even bigger fear is committing blasphemy. Although Kuwait’s legal system is largely secular, Sharia law still applies to Muslim families, and freedom of speech is regularly threatened by religious zealots.
Now, reports from the country are showing just how far some of these people are willing to go to defame and even endanger people speaking out against their religion on Twitter. Their target? Young girls and women.
The recently-deleted account @old_gaes has continuously harassed numerous profiles that even slightly questioned the teachings of the Quran, threatening them with both legal and religious revenge.
His latest targets are mainly women, including feminists, LGBT allies, and atheists, and @old_gaes was intent on reporting them to authorities, hoping to expose “every Arab atheist child to their parents who do not know of their atheism.”
One of his latest victims was a girl behind the now-deleted account @Pharaohoe, who was later identified as a 16-year-old Kuwaiti. @old_gaes tweeted a screenshot of an old tweet of @Pharahoe’s, which cited a Quran passage that had a word replaced with a slang term for ‘vagina.’
Shortly before deleting her account, @Pharahoe tweeted, “they f*cking found me” and “im gonna puke.” We can only hope for her safety.